By Boyd Champness

THE single-desk export monopoly of AWB Ltd – formerly the Australian Wheat Board – will come under the scrutiny of a three-member independent inquiry announced by the Federal Government last week.

The eight-month inquiry is part of the Federal Governments national competition policy, which requires all competition-restricting legislation to be put under the microscope.

According to The Weekly Times, the inquiry will review existing wheat marketing legislation to assess whether restrictions on competition – primarily AWB Ltds monopoly over wheat exports – are justified in terms of providing a net benefit to the Australian community.

The outcome will be crucial to the many wheat growers who rely on AWB Ltd to market their wheat overseas and private grain traders who want a share of the export action.

Australias competitors – chiefly the USA and the European Union – have for a long time argued that AWB Ltds monopoly on wheat exports gives it an unfair advantage when selling wheat on world markets.

Historically, Australia has argued that its wheat exports would suffer further at the hands of world subsidies if it did not have AWB Ltd to market its export wheat crop.